Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme Fatale

Pam Keesey

Published by Cleis Pr, 1997
ISBN 10: 1573440264 / ISBN 13: 9781573440264
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Synopsis: Popular vampirologist Pam Keesey invites you to feast in the company of the most beautiful, alluring and untamed women in history. From Dark Goddesses to flappers, Vamps: An Illustrated History of The Femme Fatale presents 2,000 years of campy, witty and dangerous Bad Girls -vampires, witches, bitches, vamps, femmes fatales, & screen trash together for the first time. Popular culture - especially film - is filled with images of the femme fatale, the woman who destroys those she seduces. According to Keesey, all bad girls can trace their origins to the vampire, that quintessential evil woman who uses sex as a weapon. From Greta Garbo to Sharon Stone, these irresistible women are marked as excessively sexual, creatures of great appetites who step outside the realm of acceptable feminine behavior to satisfy their desires. Keesey's fascinating cultural history is punctuated by excerpts of interviews with film stars and critics. Vamps book is a must-buy for vampire lovers and movie fans who treasure images of women as powerful, sexual beings. Includes 100 black and white photographs (including rare photographs of film favorites) along with complete annotated filmography, bibliography and video resources.

Review: Books about goddesses, books about vampires, and books about film stars are common, but Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme Fatale is a rare treat: it combines all those topics and more within a historical context for understanding our long-time fascination with the dangerous, alluring female. The story starts in prehistory with the worship of a mother goddess who was also the Lady of the Beasts, and spans the centuries from ancient Greek and medieval views of harmful women through the hysterics of the romantic period. The history of film vamps goes from Theda Bara in A Fool There Was (1915) to Natasha Henstridge in the Species movies (1990s), and includes beautiful photographs of all the usual suspects--Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Tallulah Bankhead, Louise Brooks, Maila Nurmi (a.k.a. Vampira), the two Morticias, and many others.

A coffee-table-size paperback, Vamps is also an eye-catching blend of well-researched (but lighthearted) writing and dramatic black-and-white illustrations on every page. Author Pam Keesey is already known for her knowledge of dark female characters, having edited other Cleis publications such as Women Who Run with the Werewolves: Tales of Blood, Lust and Metamorphosis and Dark Angels: Lesbian Vampire Stories. She draws on an impressive range of sources, including The Malleus Maleficarum, Robert Graves's The White Goddess, 1950s fetish magazines, and even Pat Robertson on the subject of feminism. The artwork samples ancient stone carvings, medieval engravings, and portraits of dangerous women by John Singer Sargeant and Edvard Munch, among others. Included are a bibliography, a filmography of stars, a videography of titles, and an index.

The only thing that seems off-base about this book is that a whole chapter is devoted to Sharon Stone. Maybe Keesey is a big fan. --Fiona Webster

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Title: Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme ...
Publisher: Cleis Pr
Publication Date: 1997
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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